Student organization supporting Bernie Sanders hosts debate watch party


Courtesy of Katie Chamberlain

Supporters of Bernie Sanders gather at a debate watch party hosted on Dec. 19 in Parks Library.

Jake Webster

Among likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers, the youth vote is mostly divided between three-main contenders: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

The top three together have more than 70 percent of the vote of those aged 18 to 34 among likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers, with single-digit support for their presidential rivals, according to a recent Iowa State poll.

The “Students for Bernie” organization at Iowa State hosted a debate watch party late Thursday, with occasional cheers from gathered students and organizers upon Sanders’ debate statements and rebuttals.

Dylan Russmann, sophomore in political science, said the moment when Sanders “gut-punched” Biden on the topic of their donors stuck out.

“The back-and-forth between Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg was also somewhat enjoyable to watch,” Russmann said.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar had extended back-and-forth exchanges over their experience in elected office, with Klobuchar noting Buttigieg had lost his only run for statewide office by more than 20 percent. Klobuchar has won three statewide races for U.S. Senate by double digits.

Audrey Wheeler, freshman in pre-business, said Sanders’ stance on “Medicare for All” stands out.

Sanders had a back-and-forth with Joe Biden on the issue of health care during the debate, with Biden arguing Sanders’ Medicare for All plan would raise taxes on the middle class. Sanders said it would raise taxes on the middle class, but said the middle class would pay less overall as health care costs went down.

“We’re eliminating premiums, we’re eliminating co-payments, we’re eliminating deductibles, we’re eliminating all out-of-pocket expenses, and no family in America will spend more than $200 a year on prescription drugs,” Sanders said.

Wheeler said health care is one of the more pressing issues.

“I think when the trans question came up where he mentioned health care for all, that was something that’s really important because I feel that’s something that goes a little bit unnoticed some of the times,” Wheeler said. “When we talk about trans rights, we need to talk about health care and how a lot of trans people can’t afford health care and so it’s really important for them to be able to have access to that.”

The latest Iowa State poll found Sanders with a strong lead among the youngest age cohort — he has the support of 35 percent of 18 to 34 year olds, according to the survey. Warren and Buttigieg are the only other candidates with double-digit support, having the support of 20 percent and 16 percent of those voters.